Forget about Roy Helu’s recording setting day or anyone involved with Election Day, the most talked about name across Husker Nation is Ed Cunningham, a broadcaster for ABC. Fans have erupted over the last two weeks after comments Cunningham made during Nebraska football telecasts at Oklahoma State and against Missouri.
Cunningham pointed out a hit by Nebraska’s Eric Martin as one “that needs to be out of the game.” The week after the game the special teams player was suspended one week by Dan Beebe and the Big 12 Conference.
There is no doubt those in Nebraska have seen the hit multiple times. If you haven’t seen it, you certainly should. Cunningham would not have called the Nebraska player out if the hit didn’t result in an injury and a stoppage in play. If you take away your fan hood and watch the play from a common sense point of view you will see that Martin leaves his feet and leads the top of his helmet into the helmet of the Oklahoma State player. If you can’t see that, you are simply being ignorant. The hit was the same thing that Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson was fined for after knocking Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson out with a concussion in the NFL.
A week later the Huskers returned home for a showdown with No. 6 Missouri. Again Cunningham gained enemies in Husker Nation when he called out Courtney Osbourne for helmet to helmet contact with Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. If you haven’t seen that play you can watch it here as well. In this instance Osbourne does a nice job of running through the quarterback. Gabbert saw him at the last second and cringed, lowering his helmet, unintentionally, in line with Osbourne’s. The fact of the matter is it was helmet to helmet contact, even if Osbourne was in the right. Cunningham pointed that out and now Husker fans want ABC to cut back on use of the announcer.
According to a Facebook group, Suspend Ed Cunningham, that currently has over 3,800 attendees, Husker fans want to “teach him a lesson” by having ABC remove the announcer from Husker telecasts. Do you think Cunningham cares if he is removed from Nebraska broadcasts? The group makes it seem as if being on Husker broadcasts is a big privilege and it should be taken away. The group says nothing about suspending Cunningham from broadcasts all around, just those that feature Nebraska.
Cunningham could care less if he was assigned to a Nebraska game or a game in Michigan. He is going to do his job to the best of his ability and pointing out rules is part of his job. Some Nebraska fans will argue until they are blue in the face that Eric Martin’s hit was perfectly legal. However, if an opponent hit Martin, like he hit the OSU player, or hit Martinez, like Osbourne hit Gabbert, Husker fans would be calling for that player to be suspended.
Some of these “fans” have made the comment, “If you don’t want to get hurt, then don’t play football.”
Is this a serious comment? In today’s game athletes are bigger, faster and stronger than they ever have been. The game is increasingly getting more dangerous. Anyone who plays football assumes the risk of being injured, but why don’t they deserve the right to be protected from a brain injury or paralysis? Everyone loves a big hit. It energizes the fans and team, but it doesn’t have to be helmet to helmet. Sure, it’s easy for someone sitting at home or jumping around in the stands to say these types of hits should be okay. Ask anyone who has had multiple concussions. It isn’t fun and certainly isn’t worth risking life-long brain injuries.
The bottom line is this – these hits are avoidable. The Osbourne hit was legal and looked back because of the way Gabbert reacted when he prepared to absorb the hit. The Martin hit, however, rightfully warranted a suspension and didn’t have to happen. Some say it shouldn’t have happened because it was away from the play. I disagree. The hit could have been avoided if Martin continued his path and ran through the opponent. He would have still had a big impact hit, but the injury could have been avoided. Instead of running through the opponent with a shoulder, Martin turned into the defender leapt from his feet and led his helmet into the helmet of the opponent.
One of the worst argument’s I got for this hit was, “He led with his shoulder and the last time I checked your head is attached to your shoulders.” Are you kidding me? Anyone in their right mind knows this player did not lead with his shoulder. If he did, he would’ve hit the other guy with his shoulder. It’s that simple.
While the number of attendees to the Facebook group continues to grow, Husker Nation can be happy that Ed Cunningham will not be on this week’s broadcast at Iowa State.
Cunningham may not have fans in Nebraska, but his employers should thank him for doing well the last two weeks with the most important thing – his job.
**He will be on the broadcast for one more Nebraska game in 2010 – the regular season finale against Colorado**